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Marketing Evolution: From Traditional to Digital

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Marketing Evolution: From Traditional to Digital

The Dawn of Digital Marketing

The internet, possibly present the greatest marketing opportunity of the 21st century. Twenty years ago, it was practically impossible for a small startup to compete for advertising space with well-established businesses.

This was largely because the media for advertising such as TV, billboards, magazines and radio were available to the highest bidder and small startup could not match the financial muscles of well-established firms.

Thanks to the internet and its multiple digital marketing channels, this is now a thing of the past. Businesses, small and medium can compete on a global scale with multinational for advertising space for free or at a small fee.

Recent trends in marketing indicate a paradigm shift in how businesses reach consumers with their products. Business models are changing across industries to accommodate the shift in consumer movement across different online platforms.

Research shows that consumers are spending a lot more time on the internet than on any other media. In a recent research by the communications watchdog Ofcom, they discovered that young people aged between 16 and 24 spent more than 27 hours a week on the internet whiles the average adult spends more than 20 hours online a week.

Marketers are inclined to place their adverts on platforms where consumers are likely to take notice and lead to the generation of impressions and conversions. The internet as it is today is a perfect fit.

The digital trends in Ghana is no different, many businesses are using online platforms to create awareness of their products or services. For instance, many individuals who import cars to Ghana as a second stream of income use the internet to facilitate this whiles undertaking their 8-5 jobs.

From selecting the appropriate cars to paying for it to importing and adverting to selling to the customer, various digital platforms can facilitate these processes. This clearly demonstrate the power of the internet as an indispensable tool for businesses.

Digital vs Traditional Marketing

Digital marketing is the umbrella term used to describe the use digital channels to promote or market products and services to consumers and businesess. These channels include Search engine optimization (SEO), Pay per click (PPC), Email Marketing, Digital Display Advertising, Social Media Marketing and Mobile Marketing.

Traditional marketing on the other hand make use of tangible items such as print ads in newspapers or magazines, posters, commercials on TV and radio, billboards, referrals and brochures. Traditional marketing is anything except digital means to brand your product or logo.

Several businesses in Ghana are moving away from the use of print media and other traditional marketing channels to online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Whatsapp.   These channels deliver enormous leverage to these businesses since a very low budget is needed to start.

Besides that, these digital channels make it easy for businesses to measure results using data analytics tools like Facebook insight and Twitter analytics. Digital platforms makes it possible for businesses to reach billions of people whiles allowing customers to window shop from the comfort of their homes and thereby saving time.

Choosing a Digital Marketing Channel

The question that most business owners ponder today is, which digital marketing platform will bring the most value to my business.  This depends on the type of business and the nature of customers being targeted. A channel that works for one business may not necessarily work for another.

For instance, live video streaming digital marketing platform may work very well for businesses in the entertainment industry but email marketing may not achieve the needed results for these same businesses.

Digital marketing campaigns must therefore be planned carefully by systematically testing different channels and focusing on the ones that best work for their brand or business. Answering the following questions will help brand managers and digital marketers make a good decision with regards to their digital campaigns;

  • What does the Company intends to achieve with its digital marketing campaign?
  • How much is the company willing to invest over a specified period?
  • What is the strength of our digital marketing team or agency?
  • What is the current position of the business or brand with respect to digital marketing?
  • What is the nature of a typical customer?
  • What digital platforms will these customers be using?

Digital Marketing Channels

There are several digital marketing channels being used by businesses today but I will focus on the most common ones.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves a series of activities carried out to make a business website appear in organic results. Using this approach, a website that did not previously appear on the first page of Google search results or was not indexed at all begins to show up after a series of actions are carried out by SEO optimizers.

However, let me emphasize that SEO is normally for the long term and there are no guarantees since there is intense competition among brand to show up in search results. A short term approach for business websites to show up in search results is through the use of pay per click (PPC) campaigns.

PPC is basically advertising within search results – you only pay when the user clicks on the hyperlink to your website. Though PPC can be very expensive because of bidding competition on keywords, it is the easiest way to get your business website to show up immediately on top of search engine results. However, this does not guarantee marketing success since only 30% of users click on PPC results whiles the remaining 70% focus on organic results. However, some businesses may prefer to advertise with websites in their locality instead of search engines. If you are such a business then digital display advertising may be the right channel for you.

Digital Display Advertising makes use of graphically rich online advertising presented in consistent size formats. To select the site that will yield your brand the desired results, digital tools like Alexa can be used to see which sites are most visited by people within the territory the brand wishes to project itself. This will help the brand to select the most appropriate website to carry out its digital display campaign. However, the business may not achieve the desired results since most patrons of websites visit them for specific stuff and may not necessarily notice your advert.

Social Media refers to tools and technologies that facilitate social interaction over the internet. Social media utilizes the strength of connection between individuals. It is a very effective marketing tool because of the number of active users.  Social media has also become popular among all age brackets. Some 80% of internet users aged between 35 and 44 are now on social media platform or another, up from just 12% in 2007. There upsurge in the sale of smartphones especially in developing economies contributed to making social media very popular.

Mobile Marketing is promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smart phones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign. Whiles having a website for your business is essential in today’s competitive business environment, having mobile optimized website or app is even crucial.

In 2014, comScore reported that mobile users (smartphones and tablets user) accounted for 60% percent of online traffic. Therefore, the future of e-commerce is mobile. Last year, Ghana’s most widely circulated newspaper, the Daily Graphic, which has been printed for over fifty years introduced a mobile app that allows its readers to pay a small monthly subscription fee to read various editions of the newspaper.

This was a key strategic decision since it would help the business to cut down on cost and streamline its supply chain activities. On top of that, Google has revised its search algorithm to favour mobile-friendly websites.

At this point let me emphasize that for brands to achieve results with digital marketing, they must endeavor to use the services of digital marketing professionals or agencies since they are most likely to bring them the needed results.

Some companies resort to the use of amateur and unqualified staff who conduct their digital marketing campaigns in haphazard and inconsistent manner. This does not help the business to achieve the long term results it desires. No wonder when you visit the social media pages of some top brands in Ghana, you see post made at five months intervals instead of hourly or daily. Mind you in digital marketing it is difficult to make meaningful impact with one-off efforts. It is continuous interaction and engagement that yields the needed results.

The decision as to whether to use digital marketing channels to promote brands and businesses should not be considered an after-thought any longer by marketers since the first intuitive choice of potential customers who want to learn more about a brand is to search the internet. Therefore, online presence for a business is imperative.

You can reach the author by email ericampah2003@gmail.com

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